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Explore the way Wilfred Owen presents the war and the life of soldiers within in it in Dulce Et Decorum Est

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Introduction

Explore the way Wilfred Owen presents the war and the life of soldiers within in it in "Dulce Et Decorum Est" The poem "Dulce Et Decorum Est" by Wilfred Owen was written sometime after the Battle of Ypres in 1915, where gas was first used as a weapon. By using various techniques, Owen is able to outline the horror of such an attack and as a result, try and disprove the widely held belief of it being sweet and honourable to die for one's country. This poem is a direct attack on the politicians and writers who encouraged people to sign up for the war, a war which Owen believed was taking the lives of so many young men for no justifiable cause. Firstly, from the very outset, Owen describes the soldiers as 'bent double' and 'knock-kneed'. This is very shocking, considering the fact that many people's perception of a soldier was an upright man in fine uniform on horseback. ...read more.

Middle

The suddenness and unpredictability of actions in the war is explored by Owen by using rhythm. At the start of the poem, in the first stanza, there is a very slow rhythm which makes the reader peruse the poem slowly. Owen does this to mirror the slow 'cursed' trudge of the men as they make their way towards the 'distant rest'. However, the arrival of the second stanza brings with it an explosion of pace which is accomplished by using exclamation marks and very short sentences; 'GAS! Gas! Quick, boys!' This significantly increases the speed of the poem and hence allows the reader to empathise with the feeling of the soldiers and shows how quickly they have to react in order to save themselves from a long and painful death. This is further emphasised by Owen when he changes the tense to the present in the second stanza. The effect of this is to reinforce the sense of immediacy felt by the soldiers and to further outline how close they are to death. ...read more.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the intense imagery of war and its horrors is portrayed throughout the poem. As a result, it is clear that Owen considers the war to be a terrible way of ending the lives of so many young men who are led to believe the old lie of 'Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori'. He believes that the ends the war is being fought for are unjust and so people should not be 'conned' into thinking they are doing a 'sweet and honourable' duty by serving in the war effort. Crucially, it must be noted that Owen is not against war; all he says is that the type of war being fought is not the right one and to get this point across, he uses emotive and explicit language to let the politicians and pro-war writers, such as Jessie Pope, back at home have at least some inkling of what their 'boys' were experiencing on the front. ...read more.

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